Pondering past audio: Augmenting headphones for on a regular basis digital interactions

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This study was accepted by and acquired a Finest Paper Award throughout ACM Designing Interactive Systems (DIS) 2023, which is devoted to advancing nan sphere of user-centered strategy design.

Headphones are historically utilized to proviso and grip audio experiences by intends of bodily controls and a assortment of sensors. Nonetheless, these controls and sensors person remained confined to audio participate and output performance, akin to adjusting nan amount aliases muting nan microphone. Think astir if headphones mightiness transcend their position arsenic specified audio units. 

As a consequence of headphones rank among nan galore hottest wearables disposable successful nan market, we person now an thrilling replacement to broaden their capabilities by intends of integrating existent sensors pinch supplementary ones to let each kinds of experiences that transcend accepted audio management. In our paper, “Past Audio: In nan guidance of a Design House of Headphones arsenic a Web tract for Interplay and Sensing,” we stock a imaginative and prescient that explores this potential.

Through nan usage of sensors akin to microphones, proximity sensors, activity sensors, inertial measurement models (IMUs), and LiDARs, headphone designers tin observe caller avenues of participate and interplay. The truth that headphones are worn connected an individual’s caput permits for a assortment of purposes, akin to pursuing caput actions, physique postures, and manus gestures. Moreover, arsenic wearable units, headphones person nan imaginable to proviso wearers pinch context-rich info and let other intuitive and immersive interactions pinch their units and ambiance past accepted button-based controls.

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Potential eventualities for sensor-enhanced headphones 

To observe this thought additional, we propose augmenting headphones pinch further sensors and participate widgets. These embrace: 

  • IMUs to consciousness caput orientation
  • Swappable units of participate controls  
  • A variety-sensing LiDAR that permits nan sensing of manus gestures

By incorporating these capabilities, we envision a assortment of purposes nan spot headphone participate acts arsenic a span betwixt nan individual carrying it and their ambiance and let other situation friends and context-aware interactions amongst a number of units and duties. For instance, a headphone mightiness thief folks pinch purposes for illustration video video games aliases assistance grip interruptions passim a video name.  

Let’s observe immoderate eventualities for lawsuit nan imaginable of our headphone creation idea. Contemplate an individual engaged successful a video sanction pinch teammates erstwhile they’re abruptly interrupted by a workfellow who approaches successful individual. On this scenario, our headphones tin beryllium outfitted to observe contextual cues, akin to erstwhile nan wearer rotates their caput distant from a video name, signaling a displacement successful consideration. In response, nan headphones mightiness mechanically blur nan video provender and shut up nan microphone to defender nan wearer’s privateness, arsenic proven successful Determine 1. This characteristic mightiness additionally talk to different members that nan wearer is quickly engaged successful 1 different dialog aliases exercise. When nan wearer returns their information to nan decision, nan strategy removes nan blur and reactivates nan microphone.

 Two videos side-by-side showing nan headphones successful a context-aware privacy-control scenario. On nan left, location is an over-the-shoulder position of a wearer participating successful a video telephone connected a laptop. As he looks distant from nan call, nan laptop surface changes color, and nan exertion is muted, depicted by a shut up icon overlayed connected nan video. As nan wearer looks backmost astatine nan screen, it becomes unblurred and a unmute icon is overlaid connected nan image, indicating nan shut up has been turned off. On nan right, we spot nan laptop surface antecedently described.Determine 1. These movies exemplify a context-aware privateness guidance strategy carried retired passim a video convention. On this situation, the wearer quickly disengages from nan video normal to person relationship successful an in-person dialog. After a predefined interval, nan strategy detects nan wearer’s continued information directed distant from immoderate recognized machine, considering nan ambiance context. Because of this, privateness measures are triggered, together pinch video blurring, microphone muting, and notifying different members connected nan decision. As soon arsenic nan wearer re-engages pinch nan display, their video and microphone settings return to regular, making definite a seamless expertise.

In 1 different privacy-focused situation, deliberation astir an individual concurrently conversing pinch a number of teammates successful abstracted video sanction channels. Our headphone creation permits nan wearer to modulate to whom their reside is directed by simply their meant viewers, arsenic proven successful Determine 2. This directed reside interplay tin lengthen past video calls and beryllium utilized to different contexts, akin to sending focused sound instructions to teammates successful a multiplayer online game.

 Two videos side-by-side showing nan wearer controlling wherever his input is being sent among a multitude of devices. On nan left, a video shows an over-the-shoulder position of a wearer interacting pinch a show and aptop while wearing headphones. There are 2 abstracted video calls connected each screen. As nan wearer turns from 1 surface to another, a ample microphone icon appears connected nan surface astatine which nan wearer is looking, and a muted microphone icon is shown connected nan different screen.

The video connected nan correct shows an over-the-shoulder position of a wearer interacting pinch a laptop while wearing headphones. The laptop surface shows a video crippled and 4 information icons connected each area depicting nan different players. The personification looks astatine nan bottommost near of nan screen, which enlarges nan icon of nan teammate successful that corner, and nan wearer starts to speak. The wearer past looks astatine nan top-right of nan screen, and nan teammate successful that area is highlighted while nan wearer speaks.Determine 2. Headphones observe nan wearer’s caput pose, seamlessly facilitating nan distribution of video and/or audio passim a number of individual chats. They successfully talk nan wearer’s readiness to different members, whether aliases not successful a video conferencing business (left) aliases a gaming business (proper).

In our paper, we additionally grounds really socially recognizable gestures tin present caller types of audio-visual guidance arsenic a substitute of relying solely connected on-screen controls. For instance, wearers mightiness activity together pinch media by intends of gestural actions, akin to cupping their receptor successful nan guidance of nan audio proviso to widen nan amount whereas concurrently lowering ambient noise, arsenic proven successful Determine 3. These gestures, ingrained successful societal and taste contexts, tin usability each guidance mechanisms and nonverbal connection indicators.

DIS 2023 - Fig 3 - image showing gestural controls for volumeDetermine 3. High: Elevating nan earcup, a mostly utilized motion to grip in-person interruptions, mutes each nan sound and nan microphone to make judge privateness. Backside: Cupping nan earcup, a motion indicating problem listening to, will summation nan strategy quantity.

Moreover, we will estimate nan wearer’s caput regard by intends of nan usage of an IMU. When mixed pinch nan bodily location of computing units wrong nan wearer’s neighborhood, it opens up prospects for seamless interactions passim a number of units. As an illustration, passim a video name, nan wearer tin stock nan show of nan instrumentality they’re actively specializing in. On this situation, nan wearer shifts their information from an exterior show to a pill machine. Although this pill isn’t instantly related to nan rule laptop computer, our strategy easy transitions nan show sharing for nan wearer’s viewers wrong nan video name, arsenic proven successful Determine 4.

 Two videos side-by-side showing a headphone wearer among a multitude of devices controlling which surface is shared successful a video call. The video connected nan near shows an over-the-shoulder position of a personification interacting pinch 3 screens—a monitor, a laptop, and a tablet—while wearing headphones. A video telephone is successful advancement connected nan laptop, and nan wearer is giving a presentation, which appears arsenic a descent connected nan attached monitor. As nan wearer turns from nan laptop surface to nan monitor, nan position descent appears connected nan shared laptop screen. The video connected nan correct shows an over-the-shoulder position of nan personification interacting pinch 3 screens—a monitor, a laptop, and a tablet—while wearing headphones. We spot nan wearer looking astatine nan show pinch a position slide, which is mirrored connected nan laptop screen. He past turns from nan show to nan tablet, which has a drafting app open. As he does this, nan drafting app appears connected nan shared laptop screen. The wearer uses a pen to tie connected nan tablet, and this is mirrored connected nan laptop. Finally, nan wearer looks up from nan tablet to nan laptop, and nan laptop surface switches to nan video telephone position pinch nan participants’ videos.Determine 4. A wearer delivers a position utilizing a video conferencing device. Because nan wearer appears astatine wholly different units, nan streamed video dynamically updates to show nan related proviso to members.

Lastly, successful our insubstantial we additionally coming nan usage of embodied interactions, nan spot nan wearer’s physique actions service to animate a integer illustration of themselves, akin to an avatar successful a video name, arsenic proven successful Determine 5. This characteristic will besides beryllium carried retired arsenic a gameplay mechanism. Take a racing athletics arsenic an example, nan spot nan wearer’s physique actions mightiness guidance nan automobile’s steering, proven connected nan near successful Determine 6. To summation this functionality, these actions mightiness let a wearer to peek information obstacles successful immoderate first-person sport, enhancing nan immersion and gameplay expertise, proven connected nan correct successful Determine 6.

 Two videos showing a headphone wearer controlling an avatar successful a video telephone done caput movements. The video connected nan near shows an over-the-shoulder position of a headphones wearer interacting pinch different subordinate connected nan call. The video connected nan correct shows a wearer utilizing a touch power to picture an emotion successful his avatar.Determine 5. Left: Headphones usage an IMU to watch and prehend axenic physique actions, that are past translated into corresponding avatar actions. Proper: Contact controls built-in into headphones let wearers to evoke a assortment of feelings connected nan avatar, enhancing nan personification expertise.
 Two videos showing a wearer playing a video crippled while leaning near and right. These movements power his character’s movements, enabling him to duck and peek astir walls.Determine 6. Leaning whereas carrying nan headphone (with an built-in IMU) has a nonstop impact connected athletics play motion. On nan left, it leads to swerving nan automotive to nan facet, whereas connected nan correct, successful allows nan subordinate to duck down a wall.

Design area for headphone interactions 

We outline a creation area for interactive headphones by intends of an exploration of 2 chopped ideas, which we talk astir successful extent successful our paper.

First, we return a look astatine nan kind of participate gesture for nan interplay, which we further categorize into 3 classes. The gestural participate from nan wearer would perchance autumn underneath a number of of those classes, which we specify successful further constituent nether and exemplify successful Determine 7.

  • Contact-based gestures that incorporate tangible inputs connected nan headphones, akin to buttons aliases knobs, requiring bodily interaction by nan wearer
  • Mid-air gestures, which nan wearer makes pinch their palms successful unopen proximity to nan headphones, detected by intends of LiDAR expertise
  • Head orientation, indicating nan way of nan wearer’s consideration
 touch, caput orientation, and mid-air gestures.Determine 7. Sensor-enhanced headphones tin usage touch-based gestures (left), caput predisposition (center), aliases mid-air gestures (proper) arsenic forms of enter.

The 2nd attack that we outline nan creation area is thru nan context wrong which nan wearer executes nan motion. Right here, creation issues for sensor-enhanced headphones transcend personification intentionality and noticed movement. Context-awareness allows these headphones to grasp nan wearer’s actions, nan purposes they’re engaged with, and nan units of their neighborhood, arsenic illustrated successful Determine 8. This knowing allows nan headphones to proviso customized experiences and seamlessly harvester pinch nan wearer’s atmosphere. The 4 classes that outline this context-awareness are comprised of nan next: 

  • Context-free actions, which nutrient comparable outcomes immoderate nan lively software, nan wearer’s exercise, aliases nan societal aliases bodily atmosphere.  
  • Context that’s outlined by nan applying pinch which nan wearer is interacting. For instance, are they listening to music, connected a video name, aliases watching a film?  
  • Context that’s outlined by nan wearer’s physique. For instance, is nan wearer’s motion adjacent a physique half that has an related which means? Eyes would perchance subordinate to visible capabilities, ears to audio enter, and nan rima to audio output. 
  • Context that’s outlined by nan wearer’s atmosphere. For instance, are location different units aliases folks crossed nan wearer pinch whom they whitethorn wish to activity together?
 discourse free, application, user's body, and nan environment.Determine 8. The strategy makes usage of galore contextual info to let customized responses to personification enter.

Wanting forward: Increasing nan probabilities of HCI pinch connected a regular ground wearables  

Sensor-enhanced headphones proviso a promising avenue for designers to create immersive and context-aware personification experiences. By incorporating sensors, these headphones tin prehend refined personification behaviors, facilitating seamless interactions and enhancing nan wearer’s wide expertise.  

From safeguarding privateness to offering intuitive guidance mechanisms, nan imaginable purposes for sensor-enhanced headphones are immense and thrilling. This exploration pinch headphones scratches nan level of what context-aware wearable expertise tin empower its wearers to attain. Contemplate nan multitude of wearables we usage connected regular ground that would profit from integrating comparable sensing and interplay capabilities into these units. For instance, deliberation astir a watch that whitethorn observe your manus actions and observe gestures. By enabling connection betwixt sensor-enhanced wearables, we will group up a cohesive ecosystem for human-computer interplay that spans passim purposes, units, and societal contexts.